DiscoverAmerican Hysteria
American Hysteria
Claim Ownership

American Hysteria

Author: chelsey weber-smith

Subscribed: 4,409Played: 159,966
Share

Description

American Hysteria explores the moral panics, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and fantastical thinking that shape our culture and why we end up fearing and believing in the unreal. Using sociology, psychology, biology, and a whole lot of research, poet-turned-podcaster Chelsey Weber-Smith charts their own journey from fantastical thinker to flexible skeptic, while detailing the sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying stories of American freak-outs from the Puritans to the present, and the complex social issues around race, gender, sexuality, and class that they often act to cover up.
79 Episodes
Reverse
Today we are talking to two scholars of religion, Professor Lerone A. Martin of Washington University in St. Louis and Professor Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania about the relationship between white and black evangelicalism and televangelism in the 20th century through the present day. Lerone is also the author of Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Making of Modern African American Religion and Anthea is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, and the forthcoming White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America. Next week, you’ll hear episode one of our new Patrons' only podcast, Walk with Me. Find our Patreon here! After that we will be covering Charismatic Leaders. Produced by Miranda Zickler (check out her band's new single here) Sound by Clear Commo Studios
Televangelists

Televangelists

2020-11-1651:024

At this point in American culture, televangelists are often seen as overblown parodies, with their pleas for private jets, their fiery sermons, their many scandalous falls from grace. However, millions of people believe in the messages of these celebrity Christians who preach the Prosperity Gospel, that money donated to their megachurches will return to the donor in fantastical ways. Since the 1950s, conservative political preaching has slowly weaved into the gospels of prominent televangelists who have hidden ulterior motives under stories of societal decay. Since the 1970s, these pop-preachers have been able to rally the coveted ‘white Evangelical vote’ to advance right-wing policies and presidents, with 80% voting for Donald Trump in 2016, contributing profoundly to his victory. Next time on the show: Charismatic Leaders Consider donating to Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Sound design by Clear Commo Studios Research and co-writing by Riley Smith Co-produced and edited by Miranda Zickler Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast Find our merch at americanhysteria.com
Today we are talking to Jason Stanley, Jewish-American professor of philosophy at Yale University and author of the New York Times bestselling book 'How Fascism Works'. He'll help us understand more about the relationship between conspiracy theories, moral panics, and the tactics of fascist movements. Make sure you check out Jason's book 'How Fascism Works', it's vital! Next time on the show: Televangelists Hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced by Miranda Zickler Sound by Clear Commo Studios Become a Patron for extra content every month!
Fake News

Fake News

2020-11-0250:253

PLEASE VOTE!!! Fake news was the unofficial buzzword of 2016, as incendiary disinformation spread prolifically across the tabloids, TV news reports, and social media, along with accusations of liberal media bias and even accusations of a democratic satanic cult. Some of what we are covering today are fantastical hoaxes that duped a gullible American public, priming future generations with a preference for the almost-unbelievable. But we’ll also look at how atrocity propaganda has been used by opportunist media outlets and politicians to get rich and to help incite literal and cultural war. Through examining fascist tactics, we’ll also see the dangers of constructing alternate realities, and how stories that hit on our most base emotions are controlling our personal and national consciousness and the future of our democracy at large. Please consider donating to First Draft News Check out the awesome Wild Wild Tech podcast Check our voice actor Will Rogers and his sister Kristen Anderson in the hilarious and spooky podcast Guide to the Unknown American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Sound design by Clear Commo Studios Research and co-writing by Riley Smith Co-produced and edited by Miranda Zickler Voice Acting by Will Rogers and directed by Kristen Anderson Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast Find our merch at americanhysteria.com
Today we’ll be talking with one of the big influences for our True Crime episode, Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession. Rachel talks to us about true crime fandom, getting to know the real people behind the sensational stories, and the impact of crime narratives on public policy. Next time on the show: Fake News PLEASE VOTE OMG PLEASE VOTE!!!!! Hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced by Miranda Zickler Sound by Clear Commo Studios Sponsored by Anchor Podcasts
True Crime

True Crime

2020-10-1952:481

To this day, glossy tabloids show the face of a six-year-old pageant girl murdered in a wine cellar in 1996, and 20 years later, an NBC special about the unsolved case still pulled in more viewers than the Emmys. Over the last few years, America has experienced a serious boom in True Crime entertainment; endless docuseries, TV shows, films, podcasts, and books, but our fascination with crimes that have nothing at all to do with us is a part of American history, and in fact, a part of human history as well. On this episode we will explore our most sensational boogiemen: uncaught sadistic geniuses, sociopathic hippy cults, allegedly handsome men with broken arms calling you into their cars, and silent killers slipping into your window at night. But we will also chart our historical reactions to this content, our intrinsic desire to become armchair sleuths and what that says about the psychology and biology of this thing called Justice, and how the public fear of these rare, sensationalized murders has aided Law and Order policies by making us all into future victims. Please consider donating to the Insight Prison Project American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
American Hysteria is back for season four beginning October 19th! Join us as we investigate our ‘vehicles of hysteria’, everything from True Crime to Televangelists, Tabloid Talk Shows to Fake News to see how pop culture, the media, misinformation, and disinformation have influenced and manipulated the reality we share, and sometimes, the reality we don’t. Become a Patron for more content every month Follow us on social media Instagram: @americanhysteriapodcast Twitter: @amerhysteria
Death

Death

2020-06-2247:561

For our season finale, we will be exploring our ultimate human fear, our number one cognitive dissonance that arguably leads to all our American hysterias, all our archetypes, beliefs, and delusions, our moral panics. We’ll be taking at look at the historical progression of how Americans have dealt with mortality starting with a place known as the Disneyland of Death, then traveling back to learn about the Puritan idea of the Good Death, and then see how the mass casualties of the Civil War and Lincoln’s embalmed corpse changed our relationship to bodies and immortality, all the way up to the present day tech billionaires funding strange new science to live forever. But we’ll also explore how, historically, the deaths of Black people have been treated in an almost polar opposite way to the deaths of white people, and how the echoes of this reality reach into the present day. Through a psychological concept known as the Terror Management Theory, we’ll try to understand how this uniquely human knowledge of our inevitable deaths shapes our psychology, society, and culture. We will be taking a hiatus for the summer but please stay with us, stay subscribed, follow us on social media or if you can, become a Patron. We love you all so much, thank you for being the best audience we could ever hope for <3 American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast Consider donating to the nonprofits and organizations we mentioned in this episode. This week's #AmericanHysteriaBookClub (on Instagram) Worm at the Core by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
The national and international protests over the death of George Floyd have generated larger and more widespread conversations about systemic racism in the United States. We hope to use our platform to help provide context and understanding around our shared moment in history, to show how our past creates our present, and to help illuminate how anti-Black racism has been passed on through our culture and politics, changing with each generation but also very much staying the same. Here are some books by Black authors that helped create this episode that we strongly recommend for further reading: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi Choke Hold by Paul Butler Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay This episode was put together by Chelsey Weber-Smith, Riley Smith, Rod Rodriguez, and Miranda Zickler.
#Gamergate

#Gamergate

2020-06-0124:541

The internet hate campaign known as #gamergate began in February of 2013 when video game developer Zoe Quinn put out a simple, text-based game called Depression Quest that attempted to show players what it was like to live with this illness. After receiving positive reviews and write-ups, a swath of misogynistic trolls in the gaming community took to message boards to rail on the game they saw as a feminist, political correctness conspiracy to infiltrate their male dominated space, and the fire was only stoked by a long-winded “call out” by Zoe’s ex-boyfriend leading to mass harassment including death threats, rape threats, and the leaking of Zoe’s email, social media, phone number, home address, and nude photos. American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Co-written by Riley Smith Co-produced by Miranda Zickler Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Men's Rights

Men's Rights

2020-05-2549:481

In 2014, a young man named named Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree as revenge for the beautiful women who had denied him the sex he believed he was entitled to. In February of 2020, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was presented with one of the highest national honors, a man who has never shied away from his theories about the oppressive forces of “Feminazis.” There are growing subcultures of men who subscribe to the idea that is is American men, not women, who are the true victims of oppression, while at the same time, condoning and even committing violence against women. But we’ll look at the far more gentle roots of both the Involuntary Celibacy culture and Men’s Rights Movement, and how they were once spaces of support and solidarity. In order to understand the problems of toxic masculinity, we’ll have to look at all its victims, not just women, but the men that suffer under its demands as well. Please consider donating to A Call to Men American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
The Curse of the Lottery

The Curse of the Lottery

2020-05-0426:321

Have you ever heard of the Curse of the Lottery? The legend that most, if not all big winners eventually face everything from bankruptcy to untimely death? We’ll explore whether there is any truth to this alleged phenomenon through a handful of stories that both support and refute this modern urban legend, a kind of folkloric Monkey’s Paw story that tells us, be careful what you wish for. American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Co-written by Riley Smith Co-produced by Miranda Zickler Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Get Rich Quick

Get Rich Quick

2020-04-2750:141

The search for untold riches has always been at the heart of America, from its very beginning as a nation founded on the search for gold. For this episode, we’ll look at several manifestations of this hope to “get rich quick” and the psychology of luck and ritual, of dreams themselves, both dreams of the future, and dreams that predict it. We’ll start with the most modern get rich quick ideas in the style of The Secret, the 2006 self-help book that make Americans believe that all you need to do to become wealthy is to manifest it with your thoughts, and that the poor are poor because they are attracting poverty to themselves. Then we’ll look at the way that the colonies were funded by early lotteries, the strange rituals of treasure hunting, and the way the gold rush changed American psychology. We’ll look too at the stories happening in the background, the far more modest dreams of black enslaved and oppressed people, who had their own rituals and had their own dreams to get rich quick in a different sense, buying their freedom through winning the lottery and finding economic stability through the underground Harlem lottery known as the numbers game. We’ll ask the question of just who can get rich quick and ask if hope is the greatest American hysteria of them all. Please consider donating to Friends of Public School Harlem. Voice acting by Tamika Lawrence, check out her music here American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Since the tragedies of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville and the Charleston Church shooting that killed nine black members, the display of monuments and flags representing the fallen Confederacy have been hotly debated. Are they racist symbols of hate or are they symbols of an unshakable Southern pride? Arguing that the American Civil War was fought over states' rights instead of the preservation of slavery, this alternative narrative called The Lost Cause is still taught in the majority of high school classes today. On this episode, we will explore the true reasons for the Civil War in the words of confederate leaders as well as the words of Union president Abraham Lincoln, words which demonstrate that this heroes-versus-villains story isn’t as simple as it seems. We will also trace these monuments and symbols back to the movements for Civil Rights, when most of them were actually constructed, during the second rise of the KKK in the 1920s and the battles over segregation in the 1950s and 60s. We’ll ask the question, does the veneration of the Confederacy really represent Southern pride, or does it degrade it? And more importantly, is the story we tell worth the cost? American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Co-written by Riley Smith Co-produced by Miranda Zickler Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Rednecks

Rednecks

2020-03-3051:333

For this episode we are dissecting the archetype of American rednecks, hillbillies, and those we call white trash, a group often accused of being the “real” racists who make up the deplorable “Trump Country." But we'll be examining who is really to blame, starting with the plantation elites of the 1700s who created categories of race to break up the poor who were revolting against the government, resulting in centuries of brutal slavery and what we now know as white privilege. We’ll look at the region of Appalachia and the construction of the dangerous, deviant, simple minded white hillbilly created by local color writers. I’ll explain how this area’s union battles that united black and white folks in a dramatic fight for their workers’ rights led to the migration of “hillbillies” into cities, eventually aiding in the success of the eugenics movement. By the civil rights era, we’ll see more racial solidarity, with Black Panther Fred Hampton’s Rainbow Party Coalition in the city of Chicago. Soon after, famous “hillbilly horror” movies of the 1970s like Deliverance reinforced and solidified our view of the banjo playing blood-thirsty backwoods idiot who is a direct threat to the white middle class. In the current political climate, those scapegoated as the “real racists” are often the working class rural poor, though history and modern culture tell a very different story. Please consider donating to the Highlander Research and Education Center American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Beards

Beards

2020-03-2319:361

On this episode we explore the history of one of the most hipster of trends, how facial hair has come to represent masculinity, the pastoral fantasy, and of course, white supremacy. Whether our men wear beards or go clean-shaven says more than you might expect about the culture of the time, and it certainly says some interesting things about the trend that defines the modern hipster. American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Hipsters

Hipsters

2020-03-1649:042

Throughout my lifetime I have been both a middle class college student and a summer hitch-hiker dead set on finding the real heart of America, and on this episode I’ll cop to the facts: I’m a poser. We will explore one of the most hated archetypes of the modern age: the ironically-dressed middle and upper class young adults whose aggressive individuality is anything but. The hipsters we know today are not a new phenomenon, and neither is the phenomenon we know as ‘cool.' We’ll look at the long term history of the hippest white kids who shirked their privilege to experience to the life of the marginalized, copying black, queer, and blue collar culture and pouring into spaces where the mainstream forbade them to go. From the transcendentalists of the 1800s and the ‘slumming parties’ of their urban counterparts, to the jazz age popularity of cool black musicians and wild queer drag parties, to the beat poet Jack Kerouac’s hitchhiking days and Nirvana’s grungy working class flannel trend, hipsters have always sought to emulate those without the same privilege, and maybe, in the process, absolve themselves of their own. Please consider donating to Black Art Futures Fund American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
School Spirit

School Spirit

2020-03-0919:192

Whether you were a cheerleader, a football player, a painted fan, or a bad kid under the bleachers, you will certainly remember this very American phenomenon called school spirit. Beginning with the creation of the modern high school after the Great Depression, we’ll take a look at the development of this aggressive pride, of cheerleading, of the pledge of allegiance, and how school spirit has acted since its beginnings as a kind of training wheels for nationalism. American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Co-written by Riley Smith Co-produced by Miranda Zickler Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Suburbia

Suburbia

2020-03-0246:311

For this episode, we are covering the uncanny cul-de-sacs of American suburbia, how this way of life formed, and how it has served as both a wholesome and creepy national archetype since a devastating 1871 Chicago fire caused the first affluent white flight from the city. We’ll look at how architects designed the manicured, identical, segregated white suburbs that popular culture eventually turned into horror movie fodder. Along with the lawns and trees that represent a long term obsession with nature and its conquering, we’ll look too at the anxiety and grinding boredom that housewives faced, and the exciting danger suburbanites have simultaneously hidden from and yearned for, a realness that would turn their black and white lives into color. Consider donating to the Preservation of Affordable Housing American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler Show art by Roache Voice Acting by Will Rogers Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
Got Milk?

Got Milk?

2020-02-2417:521

Growing up in the 90s, kids were targeted by a widespread campaign featuring what felt like every single cool celebrity sporting an iconic white mustache and singing the praises of milk. But, nutritionally, milk isn't all its cracked up to be. So where did this uniquely American obsession start, and how did this beverage, one that humans are not naturally designed to drink, become a symbol for our nation and even for white supremacy? American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios Co-written by Riley Smith Co-produced by Miranda Zickler Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly! Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
loading
Comments (56)

Heidi M. Fanning

This was a great episode!

Oct 19th
Reply

ID19619055

I appreciate that you clarify that gender identity and sexual orientation are separate. Thank you!

Oct 9th
Reply

Carly Strickland

👀 this episode hits very weird in 2020

Sep 18th
Reply

Kayla of the Library

Ugh.. I don't understand my own species. Great show! I learned a lot!

Aug 26th
Reply

EL1AS

Love it! You mentioned a lot of things I have been thinking about lately and what is happening in the nation. A sort of inner battle between the generations and the questioning of old policies and traditions.

Jul 24th
Reply (1)

Katherine Bode Claude

agggghh you don't say the s in Des Moines. 🤣

Jul 15th
Reply

Arash S. Gooya

awesome

Apr 22nd
Reply

ABR

Doesn't make sense that the KKK would have formed in 1856 by former Confederate soldiers, considering the Civil War hadn't happened yet....

Mar 10th
Reply

Sol Neeam

Absolutely fascinating episode!!!

Mar 6th
Reply

William RIker

Due to your total lack of honest information in this subject, I am unsubscribing to your podcast. I was insulted by your ignorance on this issue and the way you presented your opinion as having more weight than actual fact based podcast. If you want an honest look at vaping, might I suggest The New Yorker The Daily podcast that dealt honestly and frankly with this issue.. I wish you good luck with your future endeavors. I pray that you will realize that your opinions are just that - an opinion, not something you need to present as truth. I do know people who are in severe health due to vaping, they used JUUL and did not buy black market or counterfeit products as you incorrectly said on your podcast. Please for the sake of those who might listen, for they don't know better, Grow Up. Sincerely Yours, a former listener.

Nov 23rd
Reply (1)

William RIker

Just listened to the absolute worst episode and podcast I have ever heard. Your comments were based not on fact, but your own opinion. Just because you are obviously Millennial's does not mean you totally ignore the factual evidence. I would highly suggest you listen to the Podcast The Daily, as they did a 2 part series on vaping. Due to your attitude toward the facts, I am unsubscribing from your podcast. I can no longer even condone such blatant ignorance and the harm that others face if they even give remote credence to your opinionated piece. By the way, I have 2 friends that thought Juul was what would help them finally quit smoking, both are in ICU due to the chemicals used and what it did to their respiratory systems. Both of these young adults, have had their lives severly diminished by. vaping and the lack of testing before it was allowed to hit the market.

Nov 20th
Reply

Hannah Morgan

Great podcast, I like the way you've explored the issues.

Oct 1st
Reply

Jakat Night

I saw mike warnke with my parents as part of our evangelical community. we believed every crazy word of his ridiculous story. it confirmed our worldview of satan running amok.

Sep 22nd
Reply

Jim Thornburg

I saw that comedian when I was a kid in the 80s. I had no idea about his past, true or false.

Sep 17th
Reply

Jim Thornburg

I remember Columbine vividly and the trench coat issue.

Sep 17th
Reply

The Brotherhood of Sleep

Excellent episode!!!!!

Jul 29th
Reply (1)

Christina Wilson

WHERE are you getting this idea that because Eve sinned women are punished by making them wives and mother's? In general I hear alot of opinions stated as fact without any facts to back it up. Topics are interesting but I can't take the obvious bias. Unsubscribing.

Jul 25th
Reply (1)

Carl Doby

They did catch the person that put cyanide in the Tylenol. They were trying to murder their spouse.

Jun 24th
Reply

Carl Doby

I have seen a cigarette in a sealed glass coke bottle. One of my friends worked at a bottle plant and he said cleaning the bottles are difficult sometimes.

Jun 21st
Reply

E Meany

I like how she reports, not emotional and easy to understand. Good flow, well put together and researched. Content isn't too heavy or gross for the sake of shock value. This is a nice break from true crime but still interesting. Glad I stumbled onto this one!

Jun 20th
Reply
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store